Voices Of Music: We caught up with Ghanaian Vocalist/Songwriter Maayaa, and spoke about all things related to her awesome talent

Ghana is such a lovely country with 29 million + people, it’s an incredible culture booming with art, music, fashion, tech, business and many other ideas from the society’s close and tight community. The beauty lies in being small and connected to one another and this spills to the new age also emerging in the country.

The music of Ghana’s young generation is remarkably becoming a very dominant force in the African music scene. With acts like Kwesi Arthur, Amaarae, Darkovibes getting support from established acts, performing at massive shows and doing incredible numbers, they are taking control of their own environment and creating new ways of doing things on their own turf. The music is being structured out, having an essence and scene of its own, one already competing directly and exploring the global music scene.

Delores Maame Yaa Larbi known popularly as Maayaa is the latest rising star to emerge from Ghana’s deep well of musical talent. The 25-year-old law degree graduate describes herself as an Afro-soul singer-songwriter, feminist and social justice warrior, themes that shape her music.  With an incredible voice to compliment thoughtfully written lyrics that help dramatize her thoughts in Jazz founded beats drowning the mind in a serene haven. Her new project Chapter Red currently doing really well portrays her philosophy of living life free, loud, filled with love, heartbreaks, challenges and freedom to express with no limitations.

We caught up with her and spoke on how she began her music career, fears, and what she has in store next.

What did music mean to you growing up and what sort of sounds influenced you early on?

Maayaa: Growing up music meant bonding time with other kids in my neighborhood. I was either at someone’s party singing and dancing to hiplife songs with my friends or leading praise and worship at Sunday school. As a teenager music became more of a sanctuary for me. Even before I learned how to write my own songs, Music was how I tuned out my problems and the rest of the world. It continues to serve that purpose. As a child, I listened to a lot of highlife, soul and country music because that’s what my mum mostly played at home. As my love for music grew I sought out different sounds and discovered all the other genres I love now.

How would you express your music, in your own words why do you sing? Who do you want to gravitate to your voice?

Maayaa: I like to think of my music as an extension of who I am. There’s a lot of myself in the words I sing. I sing because I like the person I am when I get lost In a melody. It’s beautiful. Also, singing comes so naturally to me, it wouldn’t make sense not to do it, you know? I’ve been a singer for as long as I can remember. I’d sing to anyone who would listen tbh.

Jazz isn’t one of the most commercial genres out there especially in Africa but you’ve taken inspiration from it heavily, what draws you to it?

Maayaa: I discovered jazz quite late. I still remember hearing Ella Fitzgerald for the first time when I was 17, and thinking to myself ‘Wow I wish I could do that with my voice’. Her technique…the music was so different from anything I’d ever heard and I felt an instant connection to her and that sound. The genre has some of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard. And although I don’t make jazz music, I listen to so much of it that’s it’s naturally influenced my sound.

Take us on the journey of creating your project ‘Chapter Red’? What’s your best song off the project and why?

Maayaa: Fun fact; Chapter Red didn’t start out as chapter red. I even had a different name for the project I was making, but as the songs came together it became clear to me that the direction of the project had changed, and I had to call it something else. Chapter Red was that something else. I started working on the EP in January of this year and had to cut out so many songs till I had the perfect 7 songs for the EP. Some of the songs composed from scratch, then found producers to work with me on them, and for others I had producers give me beats to work on. The creation process for each song was quite different in terms of inspiration but the theme for the whole project was LOVE and the way I’ve experienced it. I don’t know if it’s the best song but Ensu is certainly my favorite song on Chapter Red. I think it’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever written.

What’s important to you being an artist born during the new age of Africa as a creative making music for a generation that’s more progressive and open to the ongoing paradigm shift?

Maayaa: Appreciation for my work and the kind of artist I am. I don’t ever want to be asked to do something else or be something else because my music is too different from what most people fuck with. I don’t want to be something else, I just want to be the best version of the kinda artist I am now. This isn’t to say that I’m unwilling to experiment, because I want to grow and try new things, however, I would very much like to be loved by the Afro-soul artist I am.

Faced with any limitations in your career thus far?

Maayaa: Money money money. I need lots of it but I have very little of it.

How powerful and relevant is music to our continent?

Maayaa: Big relevant. Unfortunately traveling this continent is expensive and tedious. Many many many of us lack the resources to go see other parts of Africa first hand, and I think music is one of the few things that gives us a real peep into the cultures and lifestyles of our brothers and sisters. It’s also a common ground for us. At the risk of sounding cliché, music does bring us closer to each other in a way. It’s beautiful. Whether or not it’s powerful is what I’m undecided about. I know in the past musicians have addressed some of the problems that plague this continent through their art, but I don’t know if that’s still happening now. And If it is happening, I don’t know if it’s having any real impact. Or maybe I’m not paying attention. Nonetheless, I think artists can do a lot more socio-political commentary through their music. I should do that too.

Who are you currently listening to?

Maayaa: My old favs. I’m constantly listening to a lot of new stuff but I always go back to my old favs.

What Visuals can we look forward to from ‘Chapter Red’?

Maayaa: There’s already a video out for ‘Ride’ ft Worlasi. I’m hoping to shoot two more videos. One for San, still undecided about the last one.

What’s a milestone you’ve recently checked off your list?  

Maayaa: Dropping my first major body of work. I’ve done that with chapter red.

African music is having a dominant place in the world currently, how does this affect your mindset and personal career projections?

Maayaa: It’s been great to watch how African Music has become more prominent in the world conversation in the past couple of years, and I can only be happy about this development. When it comes to me, I don’t necessarily make the kind of music that’s been getting the attention thrown on Africa lately, but I believe with time my sound will also be heard and be thrown into the conversation. We don’t all sound alike. In the meantime I’m just making sure to make the most of the opportunities being in this period gives an alternative and rising artist like myself and positioning myself to be top of people’s minds, whether they are looking for great quality acts regardless of genre, seeking an alternative, or whatever. I want to force myself into the conversation because I believe I have what it takes to be successful at this.

What Next?

Maayaa: What next, is that I’m vigorously promoting my EP, while I continue to work on the next two projects in this trilogy. Expect visuals, and expect a few surprises along the way. We’ve only just started!

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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